Shortland Street accused of dropping F-bomb at 7pm

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 3:29p.m.

Shortland Street has come under fire for dropping an f-bomb. But did it?

In something that seems like a Yanny or Laurel-type conundrum, an official complaint against the long-running Kiwi soap was unable to be upheld because no one can tell exactly what's being said.

In the episode in question - which aired in December - Shortland Street character Jack was arguing with a police officer who had been harassing his family.

According to the show's provided closed captions, the police officer said: "You've got no freaking idea what we can do. You think you're smart, you all do. Nothing but scum, your mongrel Dad, your crim Mum."

However, a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority claims the officer used the word "f***ing", not "freaking" and that was "unacceptable" considering Shortland Street's 7pm time slot and PGR rating.

The BSA viewed and listened to the scene "a number of times" and never managed to determine what they were hearing.

"In our view, the word used was not 'freaking'. However, we were not able to determine whether the word used was 'f***ing' or some less offensive but similar sounding word," they BSA said.

"Just as we found it difficult to determine what was being said, so we believe most listeners and viewers would have had the same difficulty. The diction of the speaker was poor and what was being said was said quickly."

That said, the BSA said that when there is uncertainty about what was said, they do not uphold the complaint. They did however warn TVNZ to be more careful and clear in future.

TVNZ maintains the actor said "freaking" - as "confirmed by the closed captions" - and "freaking" is not a swear word by the BSA's definitions.

The producer of Shortland Street advised TVNZ that the word in question has never been used in an episode, due to the show's timeslot.

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